Thursday, March 31, 2005

Technology and the Essence of Civilization.

...I urge all those who honor Terri Schaivo to continue to work to build a culture of life, where all Americans are welcomed and valued and protected, especially those who live at the mercy of others. The essence of civilization is that the strong have a duty to protect the weak. In cases where there are serious doubts and questions, the presumption should be in the favor of life....
President G. W. Bush, press comments on the death of Terri Schiavo, March 31, 2005

I have held off commenting on the sad case of Terri Schiavo because I really did not have anything to add. I was and still am conflicted; I would like to think that I know what I would do in such a case. I hope that I can communicate to those who need to know my true wishes, so that no bitter family dispute can enter into an already heart-rending decision.

Part of what troubles me is what is termed "life-support" - the phrase conjures up mental images of respirators, heart-lung machines, and another devices. Not a mere feeding tube. The other part of what troubles me is the method of death - by starvation and thirst. Not a way I would choose to go. However, watching two grandparents die in similar fashion (by their choice to no longer eat) influences my thinking on this. I guess it comes down to this - no one really knew what Terri wanted, and there was no way to ask her. And once family politics got into play, there was no good way for this to end. (Note - I am aware her husband says differently, but there is no paper or recording to back him up. And his present girlfriend and children undermines his credibility somewhat, at least in my mind.)

The advancing tide of medical technology is creating situations where people ho could in no way survive a century ago are able to survive for years. Many with physical and mental handicaps can now live long and happy lives where a century ago they would have been trapped in poverty, abuse, and lonliness. Infants who could not survive can grow to happy, healthy and successful adults. And those who suffer from

But the ensuing public fracas has brought to my view a number of doctors and ethicists that are advocates of a frankly disturbing train of thought - euthanize handicapped infants, rather than let them grow to be a burden on society.

"Killing a defective infant is not morally equivalent to killing a person. Sometimes it is not wrong at all." Peter Singer, a bioethics professor at Princeton University, penned this line in his book Practical Ethics, along with this line: "Newborn human babies have no sense of their own existence over time."

There's more on this in Kathryn Lopez's piece in National Review.

Ms. Lopez notes:

Writing in The New England Journal of Medicine, two doctors from the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands confessed that "it is difficult to define" who, among infants, can or should be eliminated. Babies, obviously, can't tell you their pain is unbearable, so it becomes incumbent on "parents and medical experts" to determine what "hopeless" means.

Already being quietly practicised in the Netherlands, there are people - doctors - who advocate its adoption here. Who would have thought that the heirs to Hippocrates - "first do no harm" - would seek the societal sanction of infanticide?

Invention in technolgy leads to innovation in its application, and revolution in society. This revolution shakes society down to its bedrock - but with the current bedrock of the Consitutional principles and traditional Judeo-Christian morals and ethics under steady assault for four decades, how much bedrock is left?

We are heading to a crossroads, and one road leads down a dark path where life, liberty, and the individual are dispensable quanities in the view of the state, easily eliminated should they prove too cumbersome.

The other road leads us to the next crossroads.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Sickblogging, Part 2

Lungs have now formally applied for secession. Nose is running like Niagra. (No, not Viagra. Filthy minds.) Nose running so bad my nostrils are raw (Eiuwww...) Would have stayed home but was needed at work. Brain fried. Thinking, writing, and speaking like William Shatner.

Listening to RadioDerb. And waiting for day to end.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Sickblogging, Part 1

First in a long and whiny series

Posting here will be light for the rest of the week - I have been laid low with a flu/cold/plague that is slowly but steadily consuming me. I expect to either recover, die, or mutate into a giant blob of mucus which will run amok in downtown Salt Lake.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Using Foreign Laws for American Precedents

One thing that has been bugging me lately is the recent practice of American judges to cite foreign laws to support decisions in American court cases. The most recent example of this is in the recent Supreme Court decision banning the use of the death penalty against anyone who commits a capital crime while under the age of 18. The Supreme Court cited references from court cases in Jamaica and Zaire in their reasoning. (I missed the memo when those two countries became bastions of human rights.)

Listen, there's nothing magic about the age 18. I'm only marginally less stupid now than I was then.

Now, today through Senator Corwyn's piece in National Review, I learn the Supreme Court is going to do it again:

"Today the Court considers whether to take yet another step down this path. The case involves the state of Texas, and I have filed an amicus brief asking the Court to respect its own precedents and to defer to the people of Texas in their administration of criminal justice consistent with the Constitution. The other side in the case argues in effect, however, that the International Court of Justice can effectively overrule a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court and of the Texas government. In Breard v. Greene (1998), the Court made clear that criminal defendants, like all parties in litigation, may not sit on their rights and then bring up those rights later as a stalling tactic. That basic principle of our legal system, the Court explained, is not undermined just because the accused happens to be a foreign national covered by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Yet even this basic principle of American law may be reversed, after today's oral argument in Medellin v. Dretke.

"This is — to put it lightly — not how our legal system is supposed to work. To the contrary, our Founding Fathers fought the Revolutionary War precisely in order to stop foreign governments from telling us what our laws say. The Declaration of Independence specifically complains that the American Revolution was justified because King George "has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws." It was "We the People of the United States" who ordained and established a Constitution of the United States, one that includes a mechanism by which only "We the People of the United States" can change it if necessary. And of course, every federal judge and justice swears an oath to "faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me...under the Constitution and laws of the United States."

"I fear, however, that today some judges may be departing so far from American law, American principles, and American traditions, that the only way they can justify their rulings from the bench is to cite the law of foreign countries, foreign governments, and foreign cultures — because there is nothing in this country left for them to cite for support. What's more, citing foreign law in order to overrule U.S. policy is especially offensive to our constitutional democracy, because foreign lawmaking is in no way accountable to the American people."

What is it about the phrase "representative government" that the justices don't understand? Listen, if another country has a good approach to a legal issue and we want to copy it, fine. Introduce and pass legislation to that effect. It'll make Congress do something useful instead of designating a day for "National Bowling Ball Day" or some similar twaddle.

But short-circuiting Congress means short-circuiting us. And I have a problem with that.

The End of the Buzz?

A parasite is killing our bees:
"Bee Killer Imperils Crops" in the Palm Beach Post:

"A tiny parasite, colloquially known as a 'vampire mite,' is devastating honeybees. That worries experts because honeybee-pollinated crops are valued at more than $15 billion a year."

So, at first, I simply mutter. They're just bees. Then I read this:
"Under attack from a Southeast Asian parasite, vast numbers of the creatures are dying off, worried industry experts say. More than 50 percent of the bees in California, critical to the success of the Golden State's almond crop, have died during the past six months. Frantic growers there have sent out the call around the world, including Florida, for hives."

50% of California bees, gone in six months. That is scary. Then think - how long has it been since you have seen a honeybee?

Croosposted at The Wasatch Front.

Friday, March 25, 2005

The Power and Glory

Now don't get me wrong. I like living in the time and place I do. I'm thankful I do not have to drag all I own across the Plains in a wooden box on wheels dragged by a team of stubborn oxen. I am thankful to live in a time where I had a better than 50% chance of surviving childhood, and to live in a golden age of relative peace and prosperity. But...

But there are times & places I would like to visit, just for a little while...
Just a little while. Please?

Pictures from Steve Thompson, Otto Perry Collection at Denver Public Library, and Catskills Archive.
Crossposted at the Pacific Slope Extension.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Last To Fall

Major Nicholson, USA, killed in action March 24, 1985. The last casualty of the Cold War.

John Miller has his story.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Responding to Red Lake

More answers - and more questions.

More information is coming out about the shootings; for example, we now know that the killer, Jeff Weise, used his policeman grandfather's gun. We still don't know why. But Weise's description is quite similar to other school shooters.

USAToday has an interesting look at Red Lake when compared with the Columbine killings. There have been some big improvements in how police respond:
Police immediately entered the high school and went after the killer, who turned the gun on himself when confronted. At Columbine, police waited several hours before entering the school, a decision that was criticized later.
"We learned from Columbine that time is not on our side," Lavarello says. "We can't sit back and wait for a SWAT team to respond while children are being killed."

Although, in fairness to the police at Columbine, no one had ever really considered such an event. For all they knew, they had a hostage situation. At Red Lake, the police do what they always do - risk their lives to save others. And it worked.

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, schools are still safe:
Killings are exceedingly rare at schools in the USA. So far this school year, there have been 19 violent deaths among the 54 million students enrolled in 119,000 elementary and secondary schools.
Youths were 100 times more likely to be murdered away from school than at school from 1992 through 2000, according to an Education Department report in November 2004. During that time, 234 students were killed at school and 24,406 were murdered away from school.

Which makes these types of mass murders harder to comprehend. We expect schools to be safe - and by and large they are. But safety and risk can only be described in probabilities, not certainties, and that has always been the case.

The media handling of this still has been strange; I remember when Columbine happened that it was nonstop coverage for days, and dominated the news for months. It was talked about by everyone everywhere. Red Lake is being treated differently; not much discussion on radio talk shows or in the blogosphere. And I don't see a reason why.

Have we become desensitized to scholastic massacres, as Jamo earlier commented?

And what are we becoming if we no longer can be shocked?

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Carnage in Red Lake

Another school shooting, this time in the small town of Red Lake, Minnesota, on the Red Lake Chippewa reservation.

The Wasington Post seems to have the best summary so far.

The shooter first murdered his grandparents, then went to the school and killed a teacher, a security guard, and five students. Fifteen more were wounded, two critically. When police arrived, he exchanged fire with them, then barricaded himself in an empty room and killed himself.

You probably ought to read the descriptions yourself - it sounds as though the killer had at least a mental list of who he wanted to kill, for he bypassed several people, smiling and waving as he executed his murder spree.

The report implies that the police went in after him as soon as they arrived. Probably standard procedure now - one of the grim lessons of Columbine. They should be commended for their efforts - my guess is their efforts did minimize the carnage. For a small-town police force walking into their worst nightmare scenario, that's pretty good. All you can really ask of them, in my opinion.

The usual suspects are being blamed; poverty and the American attitude towards guns. I'm afraid I can't accept those factors as reasons, because there are a lot more people exposed to those factors who haven't become mass killers. More relevant is the killer's background. As reports, the boy's father committed suicide, his mother is in a nursing home due to brain damage from a car accident, two good reasons to be depressed. He had also apparently become facinated by Nazism. Interesting that that 60-year-old evil failed philosophy continues to ensnare the troubled, lonely, and desperate.

What bothers me this morning is the media's handling of this situation. While I realize Red Lake is long way from the nearest major city, to my mind that makes just as important as if it was. But in listening to me local newscasts on TV and radio, even last night, this story was following frankly less important news. Is it because this happened on a remote reservation in Minnesota somehow devalue the story in the media decision-makers' eyes?

Or maybe because these events are so hard to understand, we are starting to tune them out...

God help us if we are.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Story time at Arrgghhh!

CWO Bill, army aviator, shares another of his chopper stories as only he can.

Got tickets!

Woooo! Row 15! Thanks Jamo!

While this may seem overly exuberant, please understand - I've never seen U2 live and in person. To put it mildly, I'm excited.

So please excuse me. Cue happy dance...
It's alright, it's alright, its all right...she moves in mysterious ways...

The remainder of this post has been censored for the purposes of public safety. The off-key singing and partial nudity has been found to cause extreme nausea and vomiting, particularly in young women aged 18-35. We thank you for your cooperation and understanding.

Ian. M. Nozee,
Department of Homeland Security

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Spring? What's that?

After two weeks of warm dry weather - 3+ inches of snow here in the benches this morning, the first day of spring.

Ah, springtime in the Wasatch. If you don't like the weather, just wait ten minutes.

Have a good Sunday and a good week.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Recommended Reading 3/18/05

Jay Nordlinger's latest Impromptu:
" I want to be sure you know about the extraordinary testimony of three Cuban dissidents — to the U.S. Congress. Marta Beatriz Roque, René Gómez, and Félix Bonne testified by phone link, at great risk to themselves, of course. Reported the Miami Herald, "When Rep. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat and Cuban American, asked if they feared being arrested for their testimony, Bonne — who spent time in jail in the late 1990s — said that he had told his wife earlier that day that he was 'simply a soldier of liberty and democracy' and was prepared to return to jail 'to defend the interests of the Cuban people.'" The Herald account is here; a Voice of America account is here. I have spent a long time watching the Cuban dissidents and democracy activists, and their courage never stops amazing me. I don't really mind if Americans ignore the Cubans. No, what is galling is when they support their oppressors (see, for example, the Hollywood "community")."

Jonah Golberg visits ANWR.
"Because passions so completely trump reason on this issue, ANWR becomes ripe as a wedge issue for opportunistic Democrats. For example, Sen. Joseph Lieberman says ANWR exploration "would cause irreversible damage to one of God's most awesome creations." This is irresponsible absurdity. Not only would the damage, in fact, be reversible; this area simply cannot hold a candle to God's most awesome creations. The Post (and the New York Times) had it right in the 1980s, when they supported exploration-with far more intrusive technology than today's-in this truly remote, bleak, and nigh-upon-inaccessible redoubt on the top of the world."

Jonah also weighs in on the current state of the Demoratic Party (part 1, part 2).
"Today, liberals yell "Stop" almost entirely because they don’t enjoy being in the backseat. If they cannot drive, no one can. "

And Victor Davis Hanson on the "Bush = Hitler" crowd:
"Ignorance and arrogance are a lethal combination. Nowhere do we see that more clearly among writers and performers who pontificate as historians when they know nothing about history."

Lastly, if you missed it, read the campaign finance post immediately below.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Campaign Finance Reform Bombshell

Are you a fan of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill? Not a fan? Either way, read this:
"BUYING REFORM" by Ryan Sager

The money quote:
"The target audience for all this activity was 535 people in Washington," Treglia says — 100 in the Senate, 435 in the House. "The idea was to create an impression that a mass movement was afoot — that everywhere they looked, in academic institutions, in the business community, in religious groups, in ethnic groups, everywhere, people were talking about reform."

So in other word, these people took upon themselves the goal to manufacture support for a campaign-finance bill. And Senator McCain (R-Media) went along with it. As did President Bush. And the Supreme Court. Bah.

And look who's involved:
"But this money didn't come from little old ladies making do with cat food so they could send a $20 check to Common Cause. The vast majority of this money — $123 million, 88 percent of the total — came from just eight liberal foundations.
These foundations were: the Pew Charitable Trusts ($40.1 million), the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy ($17.6 million), the Carnegie Corporation of New York ($14.1 million), the Joyce Foundation ($13.5 million), George Soros' Open Society Institute ($12.6 million), the Jerome Kohlberg Trust ($11.3 million), the Ford Foundation ($8.8 million) and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation ($5.2 million).
Not exactly all household names, but the left-wing groups that these foundations support may be more familiar: the Earth Action Network, the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, People for the American Way, Planned Parenthood, the Public Citizen Foundation, the Feminist Majority Foundation . . . "

There's our buddy Soros, again. Interesting that there are several liberal groups, but no conservative or libertarian ones. You know, liberal, the ones to who free speech means more than anything (including freedom of religion, the right to bear arms...). "Free speech for me, but not for thee," apparently.

Oh, and it gets better:
The press as a whole, of course, wasn't bought off. But most journalists were either too ill-informed or too unconcerned to figure out the fraud.
Back to the videotape, where an unidentified (but apparently sympathetic) individual asks Treglia: "What would have happened had a major news organization gotten a hold of this at the wrong time?"
"We had a scare," Treglia says. "As the debate was progressing and getting pretty close, George Will stumbled across a report that we had done and attacked it in his column. And a lot of his partisans were becoming aware of Pew's role and were feeding him information. And he started to reference the fact that Pew had played a large role in this — that this was a liberal attempt to hoodwink Congress."
"But you know what the good news is from my perspective?" Treglia says to the stunned crowd. "Journalists didn't care . . . So no one followed up on the story. And so there was a panic there for a couple of weeks because we thought the story was going to begin to gather steam, and no one picked it up."
Treglia's right. While he admits Pew specifically instructed groups receiving its grants "never to mention Pew," all these connections were disclosed (as legally required) in various tax forms and annual reports. "If any reporter wanted to know, they could have sat down and connected the dots," he said. "But they didn't."

Fan-freaking-tastic. They got away with because the press was missing in action. Although, in my opinion, that's the problem with the press - not so much that they are biased, as that they are ignorant and lazy.

A partial transcript of the tape Sager found is available here. I'm going to go slam my head in the wall a few more times, kill off some IQ points. Then I'm going to apply to the editorial page of the Tribune. Or maybe run for office.


Apparently, Moveon held a rally to support the filibustering of Bush's judicial nominees.
Bryon York on NRO has more.

Now, I support Bush's nominees and Justice Scalia's view of approaching the law. If it isn't in the Constitution, or current legal code, then it isn't there. That is what bothers me most about the gay marriage fight - no one is trying to pass a law. Instead, they're trying to get a legal ruling to make it so, without all of the fuss and bother of actually persuading their fellow citizens that doing so is in the common interest, and working through legislatures and Congress to change the law.

But what I want to whine about now is Robert Byrd, Senator (D) of the state of West Virginia since the state was admitted to the Union, and one of the star features in the latest Moveon rally. He is one of the most notorious pork-barrel lawmakers in the Senate - there are dozens of miles of highways and expensive bridges, military and legal facilities, and government projects, all located in West Virginia and most named after Senator Byrd. And in his early political activities, he was a major Ku Klux Klan Klown official.

Now Senator Byrd proceeds to lecture us on proper fiscal discipline and race relations, as well as political ethics. No one in the media can even mention the hypocrisy.

How in heaven's name did this guy suddenly become the grand old man of the Senate?

And where exactly does this Klown get off telling me what's morally right?

[P.S. And when will MoveOn in fact move on?]

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Modern-Day Gadiantons

No such thing as secret combinations?

Terror-gang suspects rounded up in 7 cities
103 members of ultra-violent MS-13, tied to al-Qaida, swept up in sting

"The target of the massive sting operation was Mara Salvatruchas gang – also known as MS-13 – whose members have been known to behead victims and attack with grenades and machetes.

"The raids, which began in January, are part of the first nationwide crackdown on the Central America-based gang that boasts members throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada. The group specializes in cross-border drug-dealing, arms-running and people smuggling operations.

"Federal officials estimate between 8,000 and 10,000 MS-13 members live in 31 states – the majority of them in the country illegally."

Of course, proposals to further tighten control of the U.S.-Mexican border are going nowhere.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

1000 Miles Too Far

The Late, Great Milwaukee Road
And Its Pacific Coast Extension

In the darkness of early March 15, 1980, the last train of the Milwaukee Road left Tacoma yard and headed east. The dream of the Pacific Coast Extension was dead.

The Milwaukee Road was a successful granger line earning a profit hauling grain from the Upper Midwest to market. The joint ownership of the Northern Pacific, Great Northern, and Chicago, Burlington & Quincy railroads by rail magnate James Hill denies the Milwauke Road any share of the traffic from the booming Pacific Northwest. To prevent itself from becoming trapped in the Midwest, the Milwaukee Road built the Pacific Coast Extension in the early 1900's, and set about making itself into a Chicago-Seattle transcontinental.


The Road spared no expense. It had the best-engineered line in the West, taking full advantage of the best steel and concrete technology to vault the ravines and coulees and the most of modern machinery to lay the mountains low. And then it really took a bold step - the Milwaukee electrified two major lengths of its line (Harlowton, Montana to Avery, Idaho; and Othello, Washington to Tacoma, Washington), the only Western mainline railroad to do so. Electric locomotives, more powerful and easier to maintain than the steam locomotives of the age, would haul the freight trains of the Milwaukee.

And in so doing, they bankrupted themselves. Though it would know a few brief periods of success, the Milwaukee Road would spend the rest of its life near or in bankruptcy. When the third bankrputcy came in the 1970's, the Milwaukee management decided to leave the West, and in 1980 abandoned everything west of Miles City, Montana.

Keith Anderson Collection.

And that is why the story of the Milwaukee Road's Pacific Coast Extension is worth telling. Despite the sacrifices of seventy years of employees battling Nature and five mountain ranges, the Milwaukee failed. Inept management, corrupt management, and the Hill Lines proved too much to overcome. The lives and money spent building the line, and the blood, sweat and tears spent keeping the line open, was for nothing.

The Milwaukee Road became the only transcontinental railroad ever abandoned.

You can still see the bones of the Pacific Coast Extension. The grade parallels I-90 between Butte and Missoula, Montana. You can see the line again from I-90 crossing Snoqualmie Pass in Washington, its giant steel viaducts visible to the south as you race towards Issaquah. The loop grade up to St. Paul Pass in Idaho is a Forest Service trail, bridges, tunnels, and all. The great bridge over the Columbia River at Beverly, Washington still stands. But the tracks are gone.

In the last decade, the Milwaukee Road's senior management did its best to forget the Pacific Coast Extension. No money for maintenance, no interest in revitalizing its transcontinental route, no desire to make the best route over the Cascade mountains make money. It gave up and hid. Milwaukee's management demanded great sacrifices from its employees, and then abandoned them, in the largest railroad abandonment in American history.

And in the darkness of early morning, March 15, 1980, the Milwaukee Road slipped out of the Northwest, never to return.

For more:
Milwaukee Road Historical Association
Helmut's Lines West Page
Milwaukee Road Online

Monday, March 14, 2005

Now hold on there... [Updated 3/15]

Judge strikes down California gay marriage ban.

The California judge based this ruling on his opinion that state laws defining marriage as between a man and a woman are unconstitutional. Of course, as to the fact that these laws were unnecessary ten years ago, the judge was silent.

My opinion of judges in general is plummeting rapidly. Thanks to judges in Massachusetts, there is no room to negotiate. They have reduced the gay marriage debate to an either/or proposition. We really don't need another national debate as acrimonious as the abortion debate. And thanks to the judges, we are getting it anyway.

Look, I am not a fan of gay marriage. I do not see the need to change a several thousand-years-old tradition on the whim of a relative few. But that is not relevant.

More importantly, I'm willing to put it up to a vote - and willing to risk losing. I do not like the idea of having judges, far removed from accountability from the public, being able to so easily turn over such social fundamentals as marriage. That is too much power in the hands of too few. If we must go through with this - if there is no other avenue, no other way - then let us vote on it. Let us all have our say.


I want to clarify one point - it is the means by which the advocates of gay marriage are working that bothers me more than anything. If they sought to install gay marriage by seeking a referendum or by working through Congress or the state legislatures, I wouldn't like it but I could live with it. But imposing their views by legal fiat is not right - and in my opinion, undemocratic.

Interestingly enough, Justice Antonin Scalia yesterday had something to say about judicial activism regarding the Supreme Court's recent death penalty ruling:

In a 35-minute speech Monday, Scalia said unelected judges have no place deciding issues such as abortion and the death penalty. The court's 5-4 ruling March 1 to outlaw the juvenile death penalty based on "evolving notions of decency" was simply a mask for the personal policy preferences of the five-member majority, he said.

"If you think aficionados of a living Constitution want to bring you flexibility, think again," Scalia told an audience at the Woodrow Wilson Center, a Washington think tank. "You think the death penalty is a good idea? Persuade your fellow citizens to adopt it. You want a right to abortion? Persuade your fellow citizens and enact it. That's flexibility."

"Why in the world would you have it interpreted by nine lawyers?"

Let us or our elected representatives vote.

Disturbing News of the Day

China authorizes the use of force against Taiwan, in the event Taiwan declares independence. Oh, that's real helpful.

Meanwhile, one of China's largest customers, the United States, is looking to reduce the size of its navy. Such as scuttling its non-nuclear aircraft carriers, like the USS America. Only one non-nuclear powered carrier remains in service. Why does this matter? Nuclear-powered carriers are not allowed to dock in Japanese ports.

And more Airbus airliner troubles, as this one lost its rudder - in mid-flight. A little unnerving regardless of the manufacturer, but Airbus, not Boeing, is the company building an 800-passenger double-decker airliner.

Marking the Sparrow's Fall - John Barron, Cold Warrior

John J. Miller, in today's National Review Online:

"Despite this accomplishment [revealing the Chappaquiddick scandal], Barron was best known for reporting on one of his first loves: espionage. His most important work for Reader’s Digest involved exposing the evils of Communism in general and the schemes of the KGB in particular. His first book, KGB: The Secret Work of Soviet Agents, prompted the Soviet spy bureau to issue at least 370 damage assessments and other reports. Moscow was so rattled by his journalism, in fact, that it sponsored a smear campaign against him."

Now that's a reporter. When you make the Soviet Union consider you a threat...


Friday, March 11, 2005

New VDH piece at NRO

VDH Since 9-11

A quick summary of the War on Terror to date. And facinating, as always.

If you're not reading Victor Davis Hanson on a regular basis - why not?

U2 is coming! Dec. 17th!

Thanks for the heads up, Jamo!

Time for the happy dance!
If you want my..
The remaining portion of this post has been censored in the interests of public decency and national security. The partial nudity, gesticulating, and poor singing contained therein was found to provoke extreme nausea, particularly in women between the ages of 20 and 35. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your cooperation.
The Department of Homeland Security.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

The Treason of the Clerks

As the link bar to the right probably betrays, I am a fan of National Review online. I make it a point to read The Corner and the pieces by Jonah Goldberg, Jay Nordlinger, and Victor Davis Hanson.

One reason I like Jay Nordlinger's Impromptus is that he brings up so many things that may escape your attention. Today's Impromptu was no exception.

He points out this piece by David Pryce-Jones in The New Criterion.

The first two paragraphs grab you:

"Intellectuals by and large disgraced the twentieth century. With rare exceptions, they whored after strange gods, of which the most odious and overwhelming was power. Writers, artists, philosophers, historians, even musicians and architects, enthusiastically committed their talents to the service of one cause or another. This treason of the clerks spread like an epidemic, diminishing the world’s hard-won stock of wisdom and morality, and civilization is still reeling from it."
"Why did so many intelligent men and women choose to serve power rather than speak truth to it as conscience and an honorable tradition of principled opposition dictated? What explains the adoration for Lenin, Stalin, and Trotsky, for Hitler and Mao and Ho Chi Minh, Mussolini and Pol Pot, Castro, and the rest of this deranged and inhuman crew of cause- mongers?"

Too many still do. I'll come back to this when time allows.

Marking the Sparrow's Fall - Chris Ledoux, R.I.P.

Chris Ledoux, country music legend and rodeo champion, died March 9th, 2005, due to complications from cancer. He was 56. His death came as a surprise - Ledoux was planning on touring this summer.

Chris Ledoux was the genuine cowboy singer. He won the national bareback riding chamionship in 1976, and many of his songs told of life on the rodeo circuit.

One of the reasons I like his music is that many of his songs are about the West, or about cowboys. Chris Ledoux was one of the remaining few who kept the "western" in country & western music.

As to his songs - all I can say is that you will enjoy them. You can tell he is having a great time singing his songs, and you will have fun listening to them.Check out any of these songs - "Hooked on an 8-Second Ride," "Stampede," "Life is a Highway," "Cadillac Ranch," "Watcha Gonna do with a Cowboy," "Horsepower" - I could go on - and try not to enjoy them. Ledoux's music is fun.

We won't hear anybody like him again.
Washington Post
Grand Junction Sentinel
Denver Post

Now there's one less tornado in Texas,
And a saddle that's empty tonight.
There's one hell of a cowboy in Heaven,
At that big rodeo in the sky.

Rest in peace, Mr. Ledoux. And thanks.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Mt. St. Helens - "Hey, Remember Me?"

Mt. St. Helens, announcing her presence.

MSH 03.09.05
Mount ST Helens, March 8th Eruption.

Check out the Cascade Volcano Observatory site. They have some excellent pictures, including a series taken from INSIDE the crater as the eruption occurred.

I have to confess, this is cool. Yes, I am a geek.

Do not attempt to adjust your computer...

Here, I control the vertical, the horizontal, and the color. I can bombard you with a baffling array of words and images or expand on a single idea to crystal clarity. Here we will plumb the inner depths of my mind and explore the very outer limits. I am in complete control.

On this web page, anyway. With Blogger's permission.

Welcome aboard. Here, I will share news and stories that I find interesting, offer my own commentary, and generally share my own view of the world and all the things in it, along with my warped sense of humor and whimsy that goes with it. Thanks for reading.